Peres plans UK visit to discuss the Iran threat

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 11, 2008

Israeli president Shimon Peres is to visit Britain in November to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat with British leaders.

The visit - which has as yet not been formally announced - will not be an official state visit, though he is expected to meet the Queen.

The foreign ministries of the two countries are still finalising the details and schedule of the visit, but sources in the President's office confirmed to the JC that Mr Peres would be meeting, among others, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Conservative leader David Cameron. He will also address members of Parliament.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry source said that one of the main issues on the agenda will be the Iranian nuclear threat.

"Israel sees Britain as a major partner in the efforts to force Iran to dismantle its nuclear programme," said the source. "And a major part of the visit will be dedicated to that issue."

The presidency in Israel is a mainly titular position, but Mr Peres is deeply involved in Israel's diplomatic effort to ward off the Iranian plans. As a former prime minister and one of the founders of Israel's own nuclear programme since the 1950s, he is privy to the most sensitive information on Iran.

He is in close contact with Israel's military leaders and receives updates from the intelligence service heads. Last month, a new military adjutant - a senior intelligence officer - was appointed to the President.

His position as senior negotiator on nuclear affairs will become even more critical over the next few months as Israel heads into elections.

While Israel's other senior leaders will be busy with domestic politics, it will fall to Mr Peres to carry on leading the international offensive against the Iranians.

The President's office declined to confirm any details of the visit.

    Last updated: 9:14am, September 12 2008